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Combine the spaciousness of an old villa with cutting-edge materials and design, and you have a kitchen for all needs

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Renovating a 100-year-old villa can pose a few design challenges, especially if you are looking to create a bold, contemporary interior. But, as this project illustrates, there's no reason why you can't appreciate the best of both worlds.

When architect Jonathan B Smith of Bellingham Architects refurbished his own home, he wanted to retain the best elements of the traditional villa.

"The kauri floors and high, wooden ceilings are part of the character of the house, and not something we wanted to change," he says. "Consequently, we have left these elements where possible, so there is a clear distinction between the old and the new."

The kitchen, which forms part of a new open-plan living area, is unashamedly modern. Stainless steel cabinetry and walls, frosted glass cabinetry and aluminium laminates contrast with polished kauri floorboards, creating a strong interplay between the old and new.

"Mirror elements and planes also help define the kitchen," says Smith. "A sandblasted glass window panel at one end of the room is mirrored at right angles by a light box on the ceiling."


To enhance the streamlined look, the refrigerator is integrated into the aluminium laminate cabinetry. A full-height, pull-out pantry in the same wall helps keep clutter hidden. There is also a collection of small drawers, which add a graphic element to the cabinetry. When closed, the drawers have the appearance of louvres. These echo the form of the weatherboards on the house exterior.

Other cabinetry innovations include a unit with frosted glass pocket doors that slide horizontally into a series of boxes. Exposed stainless steel hinges add a semi-industrial accent.

Bifold windows open up the benchtop to the terrace, making outdoor catering a breeze. Large, floor-to-ceiling bifold glass doors also open to the outdoors – a marked contrast to the original closed-in living room and kitchen.

First published date: 18 February 2005

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Credit List

Architect Jonathan B Smith, ANZIA, NKBA, Bellingham Architects (Auckland)
Kitchen manufacturer Ace Kitchens and Cabinets
Door and window joinery Vantage Aluminium Joinery
Wall panel Stainless steel from Sheetmetals Ltd
Cabinetry Fabricated by Sheetmetals Ltd and Ace Kitchen Cabinets; Aluminium laminate from Formica
Benchtop Stainless steel from Sheetmetals Ltd
Flooring Kauri timber floorboards
Tapware Opere Zucchetti Spin range from Il Bagno
Oven, cooktop, dishwasher and integrated refrigerator Fisher & Paykel
Hardware SS handles from Sheetmetals Ltd
Table Designed by Jonathan B Smith, fabricated by Morris Sheetmetal Works
Chairs White Macrosuede from The Store
Lighting Fluorescent light box designed by Jonathan B Smith
Paints Resene
Decking Kwila from Rosenfeld and Kidson